Professional Color Grading Techniques in DaVinci Resolve

 

This course provides colorists with an in-depth overview of professional color grading techniques and look creation in DaVinci Resolve 16.

The main concepts discussed in the course are advanced contrast management, balancing techniques and look development. The focus is primarily on higher end color grading, color theory and teaching techniques that took professional colorists years of experience to master.

The course is presented by Kevin P. McAuliffe but is created together with professional colorists that have contributed with insight about their work methods. Kevin uses DaVinci Resolve 16, but it is taught with the goal of showing techniques that can be used in any color corrector.

The footage used in this course is available for download so that you can easily follow along. In addition, we have included power grades so that you can deeply study the node structures and color grading techniques demonstrated in the course, and a free sample of 35mm film grain from our friends over at Cinegrain.

 

COURSE OVERVIEW

 

LESSON 01: S-CURVE MANIPULATION

The curve is the key component of contrast creation, and in the first lesson we look at the basics of the curve and curve shaping.

LESSON 02: CORRECTIONS IN LOG SPACE AND GAMMA SPACE

We continue to explore how brightness affects the curve in log- and gamma space, and how to manipulate the curve in a log workflow.

LESSON 03: COMPRESSION TECHNIQUES

In this lesson we look at how to disturb the luma vs. distance ratio of the curve with compression techniques to challenge the contrast and create a printed look. This technique is often used as a base to create a painterly feeling with limited dynamic range.

LESSON 04: LOW LUMA COMPRESSION TECHNIQUES 

We dive deeper into compression techniques and how to compress low luminance levels, add speculars and  details with gamma stretching and the log controls.

LESSON 05: PRINTER LIGHTS FUNDAMENTALS

Now that we have a better understanding of contrast management, we look at the fundamentals of printer lights that we will use to balance and create looks later in the course.

LESSON 06: PRINTER LIGHTS WORKFLOW

In this lesson we look at using printer lights in a log workflow and watching the results through our curves.

LESSON 07: BALANCING TECHNIQUES

Now it's time to analyze and match shots with the help of what we have learned about printer lights. We also take a closer look into using the RGB-parade and the vectorscope. We will also discuss some thesis questions related to balancing in general.

LESSON 08: BOUNCING TO CREATE LOOKS

We are ready to create our first desaturated and moody look by bouncing in colors though a defined node structure.

LESSON 09: UNDERSTANDING COLOR HARMONY

Colorists need to understand what makes an image look pleasant to the eye and in this lesson we discuss the important of color harmony. We are building on the look from the previous lesson to create color separation and tweek the colors into an analogous color scheme.

LESSON 10: COLOR CHANNEL MIXING TO CREATE UNIQUE LOOKS

In this lesson we look at how to create a modern and cold look with the help of channel mixing and opacity control.

LESSON 11: GRIT AND TEXTURE

We will go though techniques to bouncing luma controls agains each other to bring out texture, create silver tints to add rawness, clip the blacks and advanced sharpen techniques to bring out grit.

LESSON 12: NODE COLOR MIXING

Node color mixing is a very important skill to master for every colorist, and by combining colors and strengths we will get access to unlimited color combinations that can be used in look development. We will see how our color combinations blends onto the tonal range we have established.

LESSON 13: PIPING A KEY DOWNSTREAM

In this lesson we work with separate streams and color transforms to pipe super clean keys.

LESSON 14: LOCAL EDGE SOFTENING

This lesson is about isolating the local edges in the images and working with them to create a softer image without loosing the overall sharpness.

LESSON 15: CREATING VOLUME IN THE WHITES

We will look at another important compression method for creating volume in the highlights and reduce the sharp thin feeling of digital images. 

LESSON 16: EVENING OUT SKIN TONES

Going through a very popular technique to even out skin tones and take care of imperfections.

LESSON 17: SOFT SATURATED LOOKS

In this lesson we will dial in a soft contrast and create color contrast with varying hue strenghts.

LESSON 18: FILM EMULATIONS AND GRAIN TECHNIQUES

In our final lesson we will create a new look with a Film Emulation LUT, the log controls and add texture with a 35mm fine grain sample (that you will get for free sponsored by Cinegrain). We will look at different techniques to enhance the structure of the grain.

 

 

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11 hours ago, James Lakey said:

In "Color channel mixing to create unique looks" you seem to know what numbers you want to put in the outputs of the various channels in the RGB mixer already. Where did those numbers come from? Is that often a combination you use? As someone that never uses the RGB mixer, I was a bit baffled at how you chose the numbers, even though I could see the overall effect.

I had the same question, so I opened up the clips, set up the node tree, and started playing.  At first it appears to be somewhat magical, but it suddenly makes sense with an RGB waveform monitor (or an RGB parade scope) and a vectorscope.  What I noticed is that when the Red output is fed also by the Blue channel, the vector scope show everything being pulled and stretched toward the R target.  When the Green output is fed also by the Blue channel, the red-stretched blob rotates and stretches toward the Yl target.  You can then watch the magic happen as you rase the Green output into the Blue Channel.  What was a large outstretched limb of color pointing towards Yl squishes very quickly to a very thin line that points between R and Cy.  Those two complementary colors provide a credible balanced look that simply has no other colors to it--no Mg, no B, no G, and no Yl.  But that narrow balanced line is not aligned with the skin-tone line.  This can be fixed by rotating the Hue, or by subtracting Red output and re-adjusting Green output to get back to the thin wispy line.  When the remaining colors are aligned with the skin tone line, the skin tones look natural, and the balancing complementary colors on the other side of the center make the look.  I got this with the following

Red Channel: 1 R + 0.9B

Green Channel: 1 G + 0.9B

Blue Channel: 0.91 G + 1B

Hue Rotation: 43.4

Without Hue rotation I got the lines to line up with Blue = -0.5 R + 1.41 G + 1B

When I raised the Green output to 2.0 I needed to drop Red to -1.07 and I observed the need for a Hue rotation of 53.30 to get back to the skin-tone line.  I also noticed that using larger numbers in the Blue output channel results in greater saturation, which may or may not be desirable.

But I think that the fundamental operation we see here is using the RGB Mixer to take us from 3 colors to 2 while letting the skin tone be the skin tone.

 

I will also say that it is INVALUABLE to have a Resolve Mini panel with which to be able to twiddle two knobs that send the colors in opposite directions so that one can maintain the target of the skin tone line while seeing how all the other colors react to various parametric alternatives!

Edited by MichaelTiemann
Added bit about BMD Mini Panel
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Amazing! you have managed to explain the most complex in color grading in a way that is easy to understand, and I must say that this course is in its very own league. I'm also happy to see that you did a whole course without  pulling keys (except tonal keys which is a must) and unnecessary use of secondaries. This truly is a best-practice course that values the base grade and the lessons are super tight! 

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I must say it's a BOLD move to do a full color grading course working only prior to a LUT. But hey, it's the way it's done by the Pro's !

Screenshot_20200218_202819_com.instagram.android.thumb.jpg.755b473932a5d949a8710024ea5ace10.jpg

 

Edited by Tom Evans
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Fantastic course.

The show cased workflows rely on one key element though - corrections prior to the Log to display LUT. Easy enough when you rely on LUTs to do that. However, increasingly we're using either ACES or TrueColor in Baselight which create a different setup and already make some major changes to the footage before we even get to do grading operations.

So, are there different techniques when working under those conditions? Or would we have to force work around by bypassing the IDT and then applying it later in the node tree? Or in Baselight, not selecting the camera color space in layer 0 but then later in the stack identifying the layer color space to trigger the conversion and allowing us to have a go at the footage first?

I prefer the flexibility and quality of the IDT and TrueColor transformations over using LUTs. So it would be nice to reconcile this.

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On 2/17/2020 at 6:31 PM, MichaelTiemann said:

I had the same question, so I opened up the clips, set up the node tree, and started playing.  At first it appears to be somewhat magical, but it suddenly makes sense with an RGB waveform monitor (or an RGB parade scope) and a vectorscope.  What I noticed is that when the Red output is fed also by the Blue channel, the vector scope show everything being pulled and stretched toward the R target.  When the Green output is fed also by the Blue channel, the red-stretched blob rotates and stretches toward the Yl target.  You can then watch the magic happen as you rase the Green output into the Blue Channel.  What was a large outstretched limb of color pointing towards Yl squishes very quickly to a very thin line that points between R and Cy.  Those two complementary colors provide a credible balanced look that simply has no other colors to it--no Mg, no B, no G, and no Yl.  But that narrow balanced line is not aligned with the skin-tone line.  This can be fixed by rotating the Hue, or by subtracting Red output and re-adjusting Green output to get back to the thin wispy line.  When the remaining colors are aligned with the skin tone line, the skin tones look natural, and the balancing complementary colors on the other side of the center make the look.  I got this with the following

Red Channel: 1 R + 0.9B

Green Channel: 1 G + 0.9B

Blue Channel: 0.91 G + 1B

Hue Rotation: 43.4

Without Hue rotation I got the lines to line up with Blue = -0.5 R + 1.41 G + 1B

When I raised the Green output to 2.0 I needed to drop Red to -1.07 and I observed the need for a Hue rotation of 53.30 to get back to the skin-tone line.  I also noticed that using larger numbers in the Blue output channel results in greater saturation, which may or may not be desirable.

But I think that the fundamental operation we see here is using the RGB Mixer to take us from 3 colors to 2 while letting the skin tone be the skin tone.

 

I will also say that it is INVALUABLE to have a Resolve Mini panel with which to be able to twiddle two knobs that send the colors in opposite directions so that one can maintain the target of the skin tone line while seeing how all the other colors react to various parametric alternatives!

There some visuals that help with understanding color matrices here.

https://ciechanow.ski/color-spaces/ 

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Did anybody notice when working with RED footage in ACES workflow vs applying the REC 709 IPP2 lut there is a contrast and hue difference? Easily noticeable in skin tones.

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Great addition to the Lowepost courses.   As a career cinematographer, the "hands on" I've been able to accomplish with my own DaVinci set up has been wonderful.  Learning from colorists like you has sped the process and shortened the learning curve.  Any chance you can add to the course with some BlackMagic RAW workflow tips?  Thanks so much.

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At the end (5:00) of lesson 12 about mixing colors, Kevin mentioned that"you can add a third color into the mixing, and get another set of color called  'toushiery(?)' color... So what is the exact  word he used?

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7 hours ago, Qiang Tang said:

At the end (5:00) of lesson 12 about mixing colors, Kevin mentioned that"you can add a third color into the mixing, and get another set of color called  'toushiery(?)' color... So what is the exact  word he used?

Tertiary 

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On 2/22/2020 at 9:41 PM, cameronrad said:

Tertiary 

Thanks!

Tertiary World is where I come from  😀

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